What does it mean to be queer?

After discussing Judith Butler’s essay on Performativity and Citationality in relation to sex (as in male and female) in my Theorizing the Dancing Body class, I find myself questioning the importance of the “hard sciences”. I will try my best to summarize the argument, first, and then go deeper into my thoughts. Judith Butler states that sexual difference is part of the regulatory practice that produces the very bodies it governs. We cite things in order to substantiate and add weight to an argument, or to stabilize it. The process of sexual difference could therefore be seen as the reiteration of a set of norms. What becomes the norm is only brought about by the repetitions and iterations which reaffirm the said norm. We, therefore produce the norm, which becomes law. It is not true that we exist outside of the law or because of the law. We produce the very law that governs the way we are produced. In effect, what we consider as demarcations for sex are produced, much like gender — not in the same way as gender, but as unstably as gender. Because the historicity of sexual difference is dissimulated in itself, we see the bifurcation of sex as a “natural” occurrence. Natural, however, must be produced…at least the idea of it. Just because we cannot see when it is produced, does not mean it is not produced and has always been that way.

It is through this performativity and continual citationality that certain conventions and norms are established. If there were to be only two sexes, then why does intersex exist? Is such an occurrence a freak of nature, or unnatural? I think not. What Butler tries to examine is the level of agency which is given to certain groups. The concept of hegemony is exceedingly more clear after conceptualizing Butler’s thesis. When such a concept of natural is repeated enough, or cited enough, or performed enough, it becomes the norm, which creates a minoritative (i think i just invented a word) or deviant group. This group, of course, has the choice to attempt to conform to the norm, but it must realize that it is only the norm because it is being produced that way. We walk on our legs because we have two of them, but our arms could also be used to walk if we were on all fours. We are products of culture.

How, then, does this relate to homosexuality? It is not without much care that I relate this, for it could easily be taken the wrong way and used against homosexuality, in fact it could be used to criminalize it if used unintelligently. The idea that hetersexuality is produced through performativity and citationality, means that homosexuality is also produced. It is only in the context of heterosexual as normal does the idea of the production of homosexuality become problematic. It is the homosexual who is the deviant, who does not fit into the norm, or the natural. This idea that heterosexuality is natural and therefore stable (or right) is going back to Butler’s statement about who has agency. If homosexuality were the norm, heterosexuality would be viewed as the deviant, and therefore an unstable sexuality.

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